Is our life being homogenized with global brands that preclude any localized discovery? On a recent business trip to San Francisco, I felt like my travel experience was as if I had just taken a trip to the local mall (which fortunately JH doesn’t have).
Effective brands offer a level of trust and security as we travel. Obviously all those passing travelers offer lots of impressionable eyeballs, so why not expose your brand to them? Upon exiting the BART train I was deluged with Microsoft’s promotion of Vista, almost buying every square inch of the Powell Street terminal. For a second I thought I had arrived in Vegas at the Consumer Electronics show, not in the financial district of one of America’s most cultural cities.
As I walked the block-and-a-half to the Marriott, identified by it’s signature architectural facade, the only thing that stood out in the fog was the glowing white Apple logo from their store on Stockton Street. I had traveled all this way and not experienced one thing related to San Francisco (BART excluded—it rocks) that was local in nature.
So, do we want our lives consumed by large-branded experiences where we are told how these products will help us feel, travel and live? Well, to each their own, but to live an engaged life means you forgo the obvious and look for the experiential opportunities in your environment. On my next trip I think I will challenge myself to not patronize any large brand that is not regional in nature to that locale and actually take in some local culture.
The best part of returning home and the only thing that stood out in leaving the airport was a local sign—a reminder of why living in JH allows us to not become a homogenized American.